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Good Nigerian Healthcare workers

In 2014, when Patrick Sawyer crossed into Nigeria from Liberia and was brought to First County Hospital after collapsing at the airport, Dr Stella Adadevoh used her life as the shield which prevented the deadly Ebola virus from developing into a widespread infection in the country.

The Ebola virus, which has no proven cure, had ravaged West African countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia, leaving thousands dead and infected in its wake. Stella Adadevoh knew what she was dealing with when she quarantined Patrick Sawyer and prevented him from leaving the hospital once she discovered he had Ebola. She understood the risks it posed for her; she also understood that letting him leave to spread the virus posed a much larger risk to, potentially, thousands of Nigerians. In line with her ‘duty,’ she held him back, refusing to put other Nigerians in the way of the virus. Despite Sawyer’s gross lack of cooperation, spilling his blood all over his room in a fit of rage, Adedevoh, aided by other First County staff, proved herself as the quintessence of someone who lived the Hippocratic oath to its fullest extensions, choosing to ‘prevent disease’ even when this choice came with caustic personal consequences. She chose service over self. The price was her life. It is terribly sad, yet we love her for it. And we’re forever thankful.

We’re also thankful to all our Healthcare practitioners who worked tirelessly at the time to treat those exposed to the virus and ensure the virus remained contained. We’re thankful too, to those who are risking death each day to provide healthcare, who continue to choose service over self even in the most daunting circumstances.

In recent years, there have been outbreaks, small and large, of diseases, many quite high-risk to manage or without a known cure. Healthcare workers who attend to infected patients, while simply doing their jobs, do so at the risk of themselves contracting the diseases.

With threats of novel pandemics like the Coronavirus or the local outbreak of Lassa fever, the high risk of treating infected patients can pale whatever rewards or consequences honouring or dishonouring duty may bring. Yet, as with Lassa fever in Nigeria, medical professionals approach cases with a ‘the job must be done’ attitude, doing the best they can to save lives. Sometimes this means running on very little, without adequate protective gears or relevant equipment.

The fact that doctors still have to carry on with their job in such less than ideal situations drives a gut punch home. The lack of equipment or proximal testing facilities for infections of this magnitude compounds the problem and the risks associated with medical professionals doing their jobs. This means that sometimes when these people treat cases, especially those which initially masquerade as something benign, they may not be sure what they’re dealing with yet, or its magnitude and the risks associated with it.

But even in cases that present themselves as high-risk from the onset, healthcare workers have continued to carry out their duties with utmost dedication. In January, two doctors in Kano died after contracting Lassa fever in the hospital. One of them, Ummu Kulthum, died after she assisted in the caesarean section carried out on a pregnant woman with the virus. These people are but a fraction of medical practitioners in the country who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Despite these risks associated with doing their jobs and the fact that their efforts often go unsung, they do it anyway.

We’re grateful to those who brave the risks and serve. “In doing what we ought we deserve no praise because it is our duty” Saint Augustine. We see your Sacrifice, and we say you deserve all the praise. In this short time of our country’s trial, we can only cheer and pray for you all as you fight for us.

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